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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

WEIGHT OF TUSKS                               223

Elephant is a long-lived animal. Tb is said that it hardly reaches
proper maturity before forty, and that 150 years is not beyond
probability in the way of longevity. Even longer periods have
been assigned to it.
The tusks of the Elephant are by no means necessarily sexual
adornments, used for fighting purposes only. The African
Elephant is a most "industrious digger," and grubs up innumer-
able roots as food. It appears to be a fact that during these
operations the right tusk is mainly used, and in consequence that
tusk is shorter as well as thinner than the other. Two average
tusks would weigh respectively 75 and 65 Ibs., the latter of
course being the weight of the more worn right tusk. Theee
weights, it should be observed, by no means indicate the limits
to which finely-developed tusks can attain. The very heaviest
tusk known to Sir Samuel Baker1 weighed 188 Ibs. This was
sold at an ivory sale in London in the year 18*74. The pace of
the African Elephant, says the same authority, is at most at the
rate of fifteen miles an hour at first, and of course in a furious
rush. This pace cannot be kept up for more than two or three
hundred yards, after which ten miles an hour is a better ap-
proximation to the rate which can be kept up for long
distances.
The Indian Elephant, Elephas indieits (or JSuelephas indicus, if
the genus Loxodon is to be accepted), is better known and has
been longer known than the African. It occurs in India and
Ceylon, and in some of the Malayan islands, the Elephants of
which latter parts of the world have been regarded as a distinct
form, an apparently unnecessary procedure.
This species does not stand so high at the shoulder as the
African; its back is more rounded in the middle. The trunk has
but one pointed tip; there are five nails on the fore- and four on
the hind-feet. As this species comes from India and the East, it
has been longer as well as better known than the African form.
Thus many of the stories and legends that have congregated round
Elephants apply really to this form. As is well known, the Indian
Elephant is much used as a beast of burden, and for other purposes
where its huge strength renders it invaluable. But its great draw-
back as a servant of man is its great independability. On the
one hand we have furious, vicious, and generally unreliable
1 Wild Beasts and their Ways, London, 1890.